Native Sport Exhibit at EOU

A collaboration between Eastern Oregon University (EOU) and the Josephy Center for Arts and Culture has brought a “Native Sport” exhibit to Quinn Coliseum on January 17.

The “Native Sport” exhibit will focus on Native American athletes and will highlight regional tribal members.

“It has been an honor to work with the Josephy Center and EOU Athletics to bring the exhibit to the EOU Campus and to share Native Sports with our community,” Linda Reed-Jerofke, Professor of Anthropology said. 

The exhibit was installed on January 16 and opened to the public in Quinn Coliseum from January 17 through March 17, 2023.

The opening reception will be on January 24 in Quinn Coliseum from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and is sponsored by the EOU Native American Studies Minor, EOU Athletics, EOU’s Center for Diversity Equity Inclusion and Belonging, and EOU’s Anthropology and Sociology Program.

-EOU Media

In April, with tremendous help from Randall Melton and the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute on the Umatilla Reservation, we put up an exhibit we called “Native Sport.” It grew from one Tamástslikt had built on work done by the Heard Museum in Arizona—Randall had doctored it to include scenes from their reservation. With his permission and assistance, we built new exhibit panels featuring the Lapwai boys and girls basketball teams, the Nixyáawii teams from Umatilla, Nez Perce baseball star Levi McCormack and more. One of the new panels is called “From Montana Rez Ball to EOU,” and features the Arlee, Montana team followed and captured in a book, Brothers on Three, by Abe Streep of the New York Times.

The spark of this exhibit, for me, was watching Nixyáawii play over the years and reading the NYT magazine piece about Arlee that someone sent to me. I followed up reading the book, and then a friend from Montana told me that one of the Arlee team stars, Phil Malatare, is now playing for Eastern! I got in touch with coach Chris Kemp, and with my friend and head of the new Native Studies program at Eastern, Linda Jerofke, and here we are! The exhibit at Quinn Coliseum on the Eastern campus, which is sponsored by the Athletic Department and the Native Studies program, will be up for two months.

The exhibit is 24 panels of text and photos, featuring ancient games, Lakota Olympic runner Billy Mills, Jim Thorpe, and modern “rezball.” Rezball is now a word that is known from Arlee, Montana to Navajo country in Arizona and New Mexico. It features quick, strong defense, teamwork, and feed the hot shooter. I’ve watched two Eastern games this season, and Phil Malatare, Nez Perce player Emmitt Taylor III from Lapwai, and a group of players from many places across the nation are playing a version of what I would call rezball (as are the Golden State Warriors).

-Rich Wandschneider